Commentaries

Romantic & Neo-Romantic Poems

New Audio Available

William Blake, Ancient of DaysAt left: William Blake, "The Ancient of Days," 1794.

On October 7, 2009, Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffrey Robinson, editors of the third volume of Poems for the Millenium, came to the Writers House, gathering some friends and colleagues - and we all put on a show: readings from the anthology of romantic and post- and neo-romantic poems. The readings ranged from Black to Heine to Whitman to Perelman.

Now we (thanks to the talented Anna Zalokostas) present a fully segmented set of recordings from this event.

Download some romantic poems to your iPod this holiday and listen while you shop or while you drop.

Here is a link to the PennSound page, and here, below, are the segments described:

Jerome Rothenberg and Jeffery Robinson reading "The Ancient Poets" and "The Voice of the Devil" from William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; "Athenaeum Fragment 116" from Friedrich Karl Vilhelm von Schlegel; "To Richard Woodhouse, 27 October 1818" from John Keats; an excerpt from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, Fifth Book; and "An Archaic Torso of Apollo" from Rainer Maria Rilke (11:51)

Charles Bernstein reading a poem after Edward Lear's "The Old Man of Whitehaven"; CB tr. of an 1847 poem from Victor Hugo's Les Contemplations; "The Ballad of Burdens" from Algernon Charles Swinburne; CB tr. of Heinrich Heine's "Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht" followed by poem after "Der Tod" from Shadowtime; his own "The Introvert," after William Wordsworth's "The Hermit"; excerpt from Walt Whitman's "RESPONDEZ!"; CB tr. of Charles Baudelaire's "Enivrez-vous": "Be Drunken"; William Blake's "The Sick Rose" from Song of Experience (12:12)

Jerome Rothenberg reading a Samuel Taylor Coleridge and JR tr. of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Mignon's Song"; Coleridge on urine (3:38)

Rachel Blau DuPlessis reading from William Wordsworth's The Prelude, Book Five; followed by a brief selection from her own "Wanderer" (12:04)

Jeffery Robinson reading "Ode: Composed on A May Morning" by William Wordsworth; followed by his own "Vernal Song of Blithe May after William Wordworth"; an excerpt from Wordworth's "The Triad"; his own "Poem on the Letter 'A'" (6:29)

George Economou reading "The Shark" from Dionysios Solomos; "The Maldive Shark" from Herman Melville; "Shipwrecks and Sharks" from Isidore Ducassee, comte de Lautreamont; his own "The Amorous Drift of the First Hoplite on the Right Wing" (13:33) [At right: George Economou reading from Melville.]

Jerome Rothenberg reading "On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery" from Percy Bysshe Shelley (3:02)

Rochelle Owens reading "Judith" from Adah Isaacs Menken; her own "Song from Out of Ur" (16:05)

Jeffery Robinson reading Emily Dickinson's "I think I was enchanted" (1:50)

Bob Perelman reading his own work "Transcription" (13:33)

Jerome Rothenberg reading his own poem "Romantic Dadas, for Jeffrey Robinson" (1:23)

Sandy Frazier on Writing Lists

Ian "Sandy" Frazier talks about writing (ans speaking) lists. (The question is posed--off camera to your right--by Tom Lussenhop.)

Cid Corman Remix

Cid CormanCid Corman's poem beginning "It isn't for want" haunts me. It's the urgent quality of Cid's voice, recorded there over the telephone. And the way he so pressingly emphasizes any word adjacent to the word "you," as in "Something to tell you" or "To detain you." The phrases of the poem go round in my mind. So much so that I decided to remix the poem, almost as a way of getting it out of my head. As if to Stein-ize it would relieve it of its longing to have us listen. The remix also has the virtue, I think, of instructing us in Corman's use of breath as a formal unit. Anyway, I'm certain this will sound annoying to some, but here you go.

Gary Barwin

Comes to PennSound

Gary Barwin
Gary Barwin

Gary Barwin traveled from Hamilton, Ontario, to spend the day at the Writers House the other day. Gary is a poet, fiction writer, composer, and performer, whose many books of poetry include The Porcupinity of the Stars (newly published), Outside the Hat and Raising Eyebrows (all from Coach House), and whose music has been performed by, among other groups, The Vancouver Chamber Choir, The Bach-Elgar Choir, and by the Windtunnel Saxaphone Quartet. Along with Danny Snelson and Ammiel Alcalay, we recorded a session of PoemTalk on a poem by John Wieners. Then I induced Gary into an hour-long recording session for PennSound. And now, already, lo and behold, we have a new Gary Barwin author page at PennSound: here. I had first met Gary at Banff a year ago and enjoyed his company a great deal.

Gary is also the Serif of Nottingblog - which is to say, runs a blog going under that title. He blogs on average once every other day. I recommend it as a digital destination.

Gary is Jewish, and the family's path runs like this: Lithuania, South Africa, Ottawa. His Lithuanian family fled the holocaust. His great-uncle Isaak Grazutis is a holocaust survivor, and also, now, a painter. "In 1941, at the age of eleven, Isaak was forced to flee his native village in advance of Nazi occupation. After his parents were taken away by the invading forces, he was brought to live in an orphanage in Ural, and later, Moscow where he spent his formative years." Here is much more from Gary's blog. At right you see one of Isaak's oil paintings.

Tony Kushner, 2001

As a Writers House Fellow

Tony Kushner, near the beginning of our interview/discussion in the spring of 2001 when he visited as a Writers House Fellow: "To return all of the outrageous compliments, I've really been impressed with the faculty and students I've met here. This has really been, in many, many years of dong this, the nicest two days I've spent on the road. So it's really been a great and wonderful thing. And I learned a new word, profusity, that I absolutely intent to use and I'm absolutely impressed that somebody got those lines of Esperanto. I think that that is really a testimonial to the acuity of the students and also to the fact that Zamenhof was right and it is the world's language." Needless to say, we cherish this great praise.